2020 Team Betting Previews: Falcons


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2020 Team Betting Previews: Falcons

The Falcons’ 2019 campaign was over before it even started after their dreadful 1-7 start to the season, which resulted in them trading off veteran WR Mohamed Sanu. Atlanta was actually the first team in the league to secure an under of its season win total when they lost in Week 12 to the Buccaneers. The Falcons did surge over the back half of the season after HC Dan Quinn fired himself from his defensive play-calling duties, handing them to current DC Raheem Morris and LB coach Jeff Ulbrich. The Falcons finished the season 6-2 in the second half of the season to finish 7-9 overall, which included an 8-8 against-the-spread record — they had an even 4-4 ATS splits at home and on the road.

The Falcons missed out on the playoffs (-190 to miss the postseason) for the second straight year. Atlanta’s offense took a small step back in 2019, averaging 23.8 points per game (13th-most), which resulted in a 9-7 mark toward under totals despite their defense giving up 24.9 PPG (11th-most). The Falcons finished 3-4 in one-score contests and they posted a 3-2 mark in games decided by three or more scores.

Atlanta’s season win total dipped by a victory this season after the Falcons fell one and a half wins short of their 2019 season win total of eight and a half victories. According to the oddsmakers, Atlanta will have its hands full reaching the playoff as +225 long shots to reach the postseason. Entering training camp, I have the Falcons power rated as the 21st-best team in the NFL (+4000 to win Super Bowl LV), as the 12th-best team in the NFC (+2200 to win the conference), and as the third-best team in the NFC South (+900).

2020 Schedule

WeekOpponent (spread if available)Time
1Seattle Seahawks (+1)1
2@Dallas Cowboys (+7)1
3Chicago Bears1
4@Green Bay Packers8:15 (Mon)
5Carolina Panthers1
6@Minnesota Vikings1
7Detroit Lions1
8@Carolina Panthers8:20 (Thurs)
9Denver Broncos (-3)1
11@New Orleans Saints1
12Las Vegas Raiders1
13New Orleans Saints1
14@Los Angeles Chargers4:25
15Tampa Bay Buccaneers1
16@Kansas City Chiefs1
17@Tampa Bay Buccaneers1

Key Off-season Moves


Dante Fowler (DE)

Todd Gurley (RB)

Hayden Hurst (TE)

A.J. Terrell (CB)

Marlon Davidson (DT)

Charles Harris (DE)

Tyeler Davison (DT)


Austin Hooper (TE, Cle)

Devonta Freeman (RB, FA)

De’Vondre Campbell (LB, Ari)

{{Vic Beasley|LB|TEN} (OLB, Ten)

Desmond Trufant (CB, Det)

Adrian Clayborn (DE, Cle)

Wes Schweitzer (OG, Was)

2020 Season Odds

Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook

Team FuturesOdds
Season Win Total (O/U)7.5 (+100/-121)
NFC South+900
Playoffs (Y/N)+225/-286
NFC Championship+2200
Super Bowl+4000

Reasons to Bet Over the Season Win Total

The Falcons should have some good vibes heading into the 2020 season after they started playing better defense in the second half of 2019, helping them to a 6-2 finish in the final eight games. They added OLB Dante Fowler (Rams) and S Keanu Neal (injury) to the mix this season to potentially improve a group that finished 22nd in points allowed per game (24.9) and 24th in yards allowed per play (5.8).

This offensive line also has a chance to take a big step forward after the group struggled last season. They invested first-round picks into the right side of their line in 2019 by drafting OG Chris Lindstrom and OT Kaleb McGary, and they’ll be expected to show improvement in their second seasons. This offense has the potential to be one of the better groups in the league if the O-line makes some gains from 2019 since they already have one of the best QB-WR trios between Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, and Calvin Ridley. It’s tough to bet against a tandem like Ryan and Julio, who can single handedly keep the Falcons competitive most weeks.

The Falcons need to get off to a good start this season after last year’s debacle in the first eight games, and they have the schedule to be right around .500 heading into their Week 10 bye (Sea, @Dal, Chi, @GB, Car, @Min, Det, @Car, Den). They also have just one back-to-back road set this season, which is in the final two weeks of the season against the Chiefs and the Buccaneers.

Reasons to Bet Under the Season Win Total

The Falcons defense could still be one of the worst in the league even with Dante Fowler and Keanu Neal in the mix. Fowler is coming off a career-best 11.5-sack performance last season, but he needs to show he can do it without Aaron Donald soaking up attention next to him. Neal has played in just four games the last two seasons and he simply can’t be trusted to stay on the field.

The Falcons could have the worst group of cornerbacks in the league after releasing Desmond Trufant this off-season. They reached for A.J. Terrell in the first round, and he’ll be competing with third-year CB Isaiah Oliver and second-year CB Kendall Sheffield to be a starter. The Falcons allowed the seventh-most yards per pass attempt (7.3) last season, and they’ll need major leaps from their young CBs to improve this season. Atlanta’s offense will likely have to go above and beyond to reach eight or more wins this season given the state of the defense.

Atlanta has one of the top-heaviest rosters in the league, and they can ill-afford to lose any of their top offensive weapons, which could be a particularly tough task given the current world pandemic. The Falcons have had a fragile defense in recent years and they’ll be in sad shape at receiver if Julio Jones gets hurt or if Calvin Ridley and/or Hayden Hurst don’t live up to expectations. The Falcons currently have Laquon Treadwell as their #4 WR and Jaeden Graham as their backup TE. Atlanta’s backfield will also be a hot mess if Todd Gurley continues to quickly decline. Backups Ito Smith, Brian Hill, and Qadree Ollison looked like marginal pros last season.

The Falcons will be challenged to reach .500 or better this since they’ll face the toughest schedule heading into 2020 based on season win totals (per Sharp Football). Atlanta faces a particularly brutal stretch after its Week 10 bye with all four of their divisional games against the Saints and Buccaneers coming in the final seven weeks of the season. They also have a road showdown with the defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs in Week 16.

Notable Player Props

Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook

Matt Ryan: passing yards (4500.5), passing TDs (27.5), MVP (+5000)

Fantasy Points Projections: passing yards (4500), passing TDs (28)

  • Best-case scenario: Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley form one of the league’s best WR tandems, and Ryan doesn’t miss Austin Hooper in the middle of the field with Hayden Hurst filling his role without missing a step.

  • Worst-case scenario: Ryan falls short of expectations with Julio starting to show his age a bit while Ridley and Hurst fail to step up in much bigger roles than they’ve ever had before.

Julio Jones: receiving yards (1300.5), most receptions (+900), OPOY (+2000)

Fantasy Points Projections: receiving yards (1390), receptions (100)

  • Best-case scenario: Julio remains among the league’s elite WRs at 31 years old, and he finishes as a top-12 fantasy WR in FPG for the 10th time in as many seasons to open his career.

  • Worst-case scenario: Jones finally starts to look like a mortal being in his 10th season and his production finally begins to tail off with Calvin Ridley showing signs that he’s the next #1 WR in Atlanta.

Calvin Ridley: receiving yards (1025.5), most receptions (+2800), OPOY (+7000)

Fantasy Points Projections: receiving yards (1090), receptions (82)

  • Best-case scenario: Ridley delivers as this year’s Chris Godwin as a talented third-year WR with an improving situation in one of the league’s pass-heaviest offenses.

  • Worst-case scenario: Ridley fails to step up and be the Robin in this passing attack to Julio Jones’ Batman even with Austin Hooper and Mohamed Sanu out of the picture.

Todd Gurley: rushing yards (825.5), OPOY (+8000)

Fantasy Points Projections: rushing yards (780)

  • Best-case scenario: Gurley has a career resurgence playing in his adopted home state of Georgia, and he’s able to handle a monster workload in one of the thinnest RB depth charts in the league.

  • Worst-case scenario: Gurley’s knees are complete dust at this point in his career and he struggles to stay on the field and to be effective for long stretches of time, especially playing on the turf at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Best Bets and Leans

The Falcons fell flat on their faces out of the gates last season before surging in the back half of the season. The franchise may feel better about where they stand after their 6-2 finish in the second half of last season, but the strong final kick to 2019 delayed the front office from tearing down what is a slowly sinking ship. I think they’ll be doing a more thorough reboot to this roster heading into the 2021 season, which is why I’m betting two units on the Falcons to finish under 7.5 wins.

The Falcons could have a second formidable opponent in the division with Buccaneers adding Tom Brady, and they’ll face the toughest schedule based on 2020 season win totals. They did add Dante Fowler to boost their pass rush but this roster didn’t improve overall from when they won seven games in 2019. Atlanta’s roster continues to be one of the most top-heavy in the league, and quality depth is likely to be more important than ever because of the current health crisis.

I don’t have any strong feelings when it comes to the player props listed for the Falcons passing game as our projections fall in line with most of the props listed, but I am fading the big addition to their rushing attack. In a bit of a correlated bet to my Falcons under 7.5 wins wager, I’m betting one unit on Todd Gurley to finish under 924.5 rushing yards this season. The Falcons averaged the third-fewest rushing attempts per game last season (22.6), and I’m expecting Atlanta to be among the leaders in pass attempts once again this season if they’re playing from behind a bunch against a tough schedule.

I also don’t think Gurley can stay healthy and/or effective for a full season because of his bad knees. His carries per game have dipped for three straight seasons (18.6>18.3>14.9) and his YPC plummeted to 3.8 last season, and the Falcons O-line doesn’t project to be a major upgrade over his old Rams’ O-line. I would feel stronger about this wager if the Falcons had a better second option in this backfield, but I still believe Gurley’s best days are behind him.

Best Bets: Falcons under 7.5 wins (+100, betonline.ag). Risk two units to win two units….Todd Gurley under 924.5 rushing yards (-110, FoxBet). Risk one unit to win .91 units.

Leans: None.

Tom is a Senior Writer at Fantasy Points who specializes in fantasy and betting analysis. He’ll be helping you to navigate the waiver wire and manage your fantasy teams while also keeping our betting content robust all year long, especially during the season. Tom's Best Bets against the spread won at 64.3% clip last season and he owned the last undefeated team out of 3000 entries in Scott Fish Bowl 12.